SC State University board makeover continues

ashain@thestate.comJanuary 6, 2014 

Gov. Nikki Haley talks with Jackie Epps, an S.C. State University Board of Trustees member, at a banquet last year. Epps was not re-elected to the board last year.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

The makeover of the S.C. State University board of trustees is continuing.

Three incumbent trustees did not seek re-election to their seats, the school said Monday. Legislators, who elect trustees, punted four S.C. State board members in last year’s election – including one who was running unopposed – in an effort to make over the Orangeburg school, suffering from years of severe debt, declining enrollment and leadership quarrels.

By next summer, nine of the 13 members on the board of the state’s only historically black public college will be new, elected since last year.

News about S.C. State’s board makeover came as a joint legislative committee that screens candidates for the boards of colleges and universities Monday released the names of the 84 people who had filed notices of intent to run for 58 board seats at 11 schools.

This year, two out of every three seats available on state public college boards have only one candidate.

Only one of the eight seats on the University of South Carolina has a challenger. William Hubbard, a Columbia attorney who is the second-longest tenured USC trustee, faces former U.S. Attorney Pete Strom to represent the district that covers Richland and Kershaw counties.

Meanwhile, a fight appears to be brewing for a 7th District seat on the Medical University of South Carolina board.

Former U.S. Rep. Robin Tallon has filed for the opening that his former chief of staff, Marva Smalls, lost to former state Rep. James Battle last year. Battle is seeking re-election this year.

Last year, Smalls, now a cable television network executive, complained about lawmakers electing anyone with ties to the Legislature, likening the experience to “insider trading.” Smalls said legislators urged her to drop out of the race, which is not uncommon and allows lawmakers to avoid conflicts from having to vote among trustee candidates.

Nine new trustees, who either are family members of legislators or have close ties to the Legislature, were elected to college board seats last year.

The S.C. State board members who decided not to seek re-election this year are: retired Orangeburg educator Patricia Lott, congressional district director Robert Nance, and Anderson attorney Robert Waldrep, the school said.

Nance – who works for U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., of Columbia – was the longest serving of the trio, with six years on the board. The others served four years.

One candidate for Nance’s at-large seat is the father of former NFL and S.C. State star Robert Porcher. He will face Columbia attorney Sidney Evering.

Some more notable races at other S.C. colleges include:

•  No challengers filed for three at-large seats at Clemson University held by Patricia McAbee of Greenville, John McCarter Jr. of Columbia and Joseph D. Swann of Greenville.

•  Three of nine seats at the College of Charleston are contested. The school is choosing a new president. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, is planning to apply for the post.

•  Five candidates are aiming to fill two at-large seats at The Citadel.

•  Only one of eight board seats at Francis Marion University is contested.

Trustee candidates must submit applications by Jan. 30. The General Assembly will vote on trustees in the spring, after they are screened.

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